Roughly one million men, women, and children are estimated to participate in saltwater fishing in Massachusetts tidal waters each year. With increased privatization and development of our shoreline, providing public access to our marine waters is essential to maintaining and growing this vibrant saltwater sport fishing community. We do this through acquiring property and easements and building infrastructure including fishing piers and reefs, in partnership with other state and federal agencies.
Finding a Public Access Site
The Office of Fishing and Boating Access (OFBA) maintains a directory of public access sites including boat launches, boat ramps, fishing piers, and shore-side fishing areas in both saltwater and fresh water. Most sites supported by MarineFisheries are included. Information is available in both a searchable list view and map view.
Maps of artificial reef locations are available on our website, here.
All anglers should know their public access rights along the shoreline, which are outlined by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.
Our efforts to improve public access received a major boost in 2011, when the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund was established, creating a dedicated funding source from the sale of recreational saltwater fishing permits. The public access funds are divided into two subcategories, Cooperative Projects and Small Grants. In general, one Cooperative Project and five to ten Small Grant projects are funded each fiscal year.
Cooperative Projects: These projects include both new construction and maintenance to existing public access locations, many of which are done collaboratively with the OFBA. Large-scale coastal infrastructure projects (e.g., a new fishing pier) can require multiple years of design, permitting, and construction oversight. All cooperative projects are reimbursed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program.
Small Grants: Initiated in 2014, Small Grants enables municipalities to apply for funds to support projects in their towns that will enhance public access for saltwater fishing. All funded projects must allow for access to all saltwater anglers legally fishing in Massachusetts. Check back for information on applying for small grants in Fiscal Year 2017.
Recreational Fishing Public Access Improvements supported by the Division of Marine Fisheries
|2016||Harwich: deployment of artificial recreational fishing reef (details)||Cooperative project with Town of Harwich|
|Plymouth: installation of fillet station at the Town Boat Ramp||Small grant|
|Rockport: landscape improvements along the Atlantic Pat||Small grant|
|Marshfield: new LED lighting at the Green Harbor boat ramp||Small grant|
|Gloucester: new float at Magnolia Pier; labor for this project was provided by the Gloucester High School wood shop||Small grant|
|Dennis: two new floats and a new gangway at Uncle Freeman's Landing boat ramp on Bass River||Small grant|
|2015||Newburyport: replacement and improvement of existing pier at Cashman Park (map)||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|Weymouth: new LED lighting at the Back River boat launch||Small grant|
|Eastham: expansion of pre-existing dredging project to make the State boat launch more useable.||Small grant|
|Marshfield: creation of a path gangway, car top vessel launch, and fishing dock at Peter Igo Park on the Green River||Small grant|
|2014||Oak Bluffs: construction of new fishing pier on Martha's Vineyard (map)||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|Sandwich: improvements to existing Scusset fishing pier on the Cape Cod Canal||Cooperative project with OFBA and the Department of Conservation and Recreation|
|Mashpee: stairway replacement at Popponesset Beach access site||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|Sandwich: parking lot improvements at Craven's Landing access site||Division project|
|Westport: boat ramp float replacement||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|Marshfield: car top vessel launch and parking site improvements at Harbor Park access site||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|Aquinnah: reestablishment of access path and parking lot at Dogfish Bar shore fishing site||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|Swansea: improvements to Pierce's Point public way||Small grant|
|Quincy: boat ramp maintenance and a new gangway on Hough's Neck||Small grant|
|Rockport: landscape improvements along the Atlantic Path||Small grant|
|Fall River: new LED lighting at Bicentennial boat ramp||Small grant|
|Duxbury: fish filleting station with running water, web cam with views of Duxbury Bay, and a weather station||Small grant|
|2013||Yarmouth: construction of new pier and improved parking on Bass River, Wilbur Park (map)||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|2000||Wareham: new construction of two piers on Wareham River at Besse Park (map)||Cooperative project with OFBA|
|1999||Sandwich: acquisition of property for Craven's Landing shore fishing site (details)||Cooperative project|
|1996||Aquinnah: acquisition of property for Dogfish Bar shore fishing site (details)||Cooperative project|
|1993||Edgartown: acquisition of property for East Beach shore fishing site (details)||Cooperative project|
Have questions? Contact Ross Kessler for more information about public access in the Commonwealth.